Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Irrational Hatred of Tim Thomas

While I can understand why people don't like Tim Thomas taking a year off, leaving his team hanging, and making himself next to impossible to trade, what confuses and amazes me is how much people have turned on Tim Thomas as a player and a person. There's some serious hatred out there for a guy who won a Conn Smythe and two Vezinas in black and gold.

I don't like what Thomas did. I would have preferred he play for the Bruins. He's also made it more difficult for the Bruins to improve themselves for the 2012-13 season and beyond. But I'm seeing a tremendous amount of rancor and outrage directed squarely at him, not what he did, but at him. These people personally don't like this guy. This rage forgets all the other things he did while playing here. It's childish and sounds like the complaints of spoiled children who didn't get everything they wanted, and are now complaining about somebody else doing what he wants.

These are some of the comments from the Anti-Thomas Brigade that I've found most entertaining and illustrative of the kind of irrationality that is guiding the people who have turned on Tim Thomas. Some are from Thomas' Facebook page, some are from this very levelheaded piece by Obnixious Boston Fan, and others are from a solid column from Kirk Minihane about why the Boston Sports Media dislikes Thomas

Some people seem happy he's gone. Which is weird because they're also angry at him for leaving. The phrase "good riddance" is popular among these folk.

"youre a fuckin loser i hope you never come back"

"Timmy, until this point I have respected you for all you have accomplished and the fact you speak your mind without fear or allowing intimidation... however now you've crossed the line. You shouldn't have signed a 3-year deal if you didn't want to play 3 more years. You are abandoning your commitment to the team and leaving the franchise and your teammates in a really bad place in doing so. Thanks for the cup and good riddance."

"take a year off and never come back, thanks for nothing. He has got a contract right, bruins pay him right? u dont play we dont pay. this needs to be over."

The guy actually said "thanks for nothing" about an athlete that won the Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP.

"See ya Timmy. Don't let the door hit your butt on the way out."

"You are a self centered, worthless, overpaid piece of garbage. Crawl into your little hole and stay there. Bruins will be better without having to deal with the cancer you caused in the locker room this spring."

Apparently Timmy the Tumor only became malignant sometime after June 15, 2011. The new reputation that Thomas has as a selfish player has given his haters something to talk about and criticize him with. I really don't know if Thomas is selfish or not. He certainly goes his own way. Most goalies do. And what if he were selfish in 2011? That was only a year ago. Did his selfishness hurt the team then? What about now? Was his selfishness responsible for the woefully inept Bruins' Power Play unit this past postseason? Did his selfishness turn Braden Holtby into Ken Dryden?

"Tim, you're being a selfish ass and you should do the right thing and retire! The reason why there is a statue of Bobby Orr is because he gave his best and never did anything to hurt the team or the fans! Causing the Bruins to take the cap hit for your salary does both; no doubt about it! You will forever be remembered as that asshole who helped the Bruins win a cup!!! I suspect you are too self-centered to care what the fans think which is a shame!"

"Thanks for hand cuffing the B's you self centered prick"

"again shows that hes all about himself, his ego, and whats best for HIM. not his team, the city or the teammates who have supported him throughout the years, good riddance."

"Is this how you treat your friends (teammates)? You want to stick them with a $5M cap hit? Have you been chewing on lead paint chips, Tim?"

"Good job screwing over the ONE nhl organization who believed in you, gave you a chance, and rewarded you handsomely. Did you repay them? Absolutely you did....but now you are destroying the image that you worked so hard for, because of what...world issues that you cant do shit about. Congrats Tim, you are a dope."

"why didn't you take the season off in 2008 then? You are just a big baby, you HATE the Bruins front office for trying to trade you 2 years ago, and don't want them to decide your destination for the next year. You can spend all the time you want with Family etc. at the end of your contract that you signed. Just another selfish act by the guy that every knows is a selfish player."

"unless you file your retirement papers to get your cap hit off the books, you're a shit teammate and have no loyalty to your organization. if i was a member of the bruins organization (player or not) and you expected to come back the next year as if nothing ever happened, you would be kidding yourself. you've disgraced yourself by potentially handcuffing your "team" just so you can take a year off. it doesn't matter about you winning the conn smythe, vezina or the cup, you've made one of the worlds most team orientated sports all about you, especially during the cup finals. you shouldn't be welcomed back, you shouldn't expect the rest of the money on your deal, and you should submit your retirement papers yesterday. your arrogance, conceitedness and desire to back it all up by bringing your own political views into it shames an organization, the league, and possibly the sport. disgraceful behaviour from a "professional"."

This guy seems to think that if Thomas retired, the Bruins would no longer be responsible for the $5 million cap hit. Which is simply not true. The Bruins are responsible for it, even if Thomas retires.

Of course, this guy isn't alone in holding this incorrect belief. And the Boston Sports Media that begrudge Thomas because he doesn't answer their questions in person and instead uses Facebook to communicate with the public, have been reluctant to fully disclose that even if Thomas retired, the cap hit would still be there.

I had to go through the CBA itself to learn that the Bruins were responsible for the $5M cap hit. It wasn't mentioned at all in stories when this all broke on Sunday. Even now, I've only seen this fact mentioned in three columns/articles about this decision. It's one of the most important yet least discussed facts of this story. I wonder why the Media barely mentions it at all.

"In league where a stunt like this hand cuffs a team, due to a salary cap. I have no choice as a fan of Boston to infer that Thomas is doing this intentionally. To which I say, enough of the b.s. put that nasty Finnish goalie in the net and let's win the Cup."

"And your not that important either...retire you clown. Tuukka is more of a man."

"well if u really felt that way u wouldnt screw the bruins with that cap hit."

"I don't know how anyone can rationalize this decision (besides the jesus freaks). If you don't want to play hockey then retire, or are you some how entilted to be paid for not working? Some of us actully struggle to make $25,000 a year by working everyday, slap in the face to the 9-5 world."

Many of these anti-Thomas people allude to the White House incident. They point to that as an example of selfish, anti-team behavior. And among these people, a narrative is developing that when the Bruins had their White House visit, Thomas' absence became such a distraction that it undermined the team. After all, the Bruins were 31-13-2 before the incident, 18-16-2 after.

The anti-Thomas people fail to point out that the good pre-White House record was due mostly to a 21-3-1 run in November and December. Even the Power Play was scoring. Leading up to the White House visit, the team had already cooled off. And was in a 5-3-1 stretch of hockey. But for some, Thomas became the scapegoat for their struggles after the visit. Not the inconsistent Bruins' forwards like Krejci, who had 2 goals and 0 assists in February, or Lucic who had 3 goals and 2 assists in February, then 3 goals again in March. It wasn't their fault. Thomas' "controversial" remarks had become a distraction. Or so the Media and the anti-Thomas people are still trying to convince us to believe.

The Media pounced on Thomas' decision to not visit the White House. They started a fire then accused Thomas of being inflammatory. Maybe the smartest thing for Thomas to have done would have been to keep quiet and go to the PR event. But the best argument I can make for him foregoing his convictions is that it would have been the smartest way to avoid irritating a ravenous Media that was hungry for a story.

"Here's the difference between Thomas and a real sports "hero".
Thomas didn't do what he did for the team, he did it for himself, which is a recurring issue for him apparently. He ditched the team when it recieved one of the highest honors because he felt his own political views were too important to waste on something like comraderie and team unity. Thomas is out for himself, he did what he did for himself. His fans are just mindless followers not realizing they're being pulled about the collar by Thomas' massive ego. Sad fools."

"Dosent know how good he has it..respected him once..but after he turned his back on his teamates w Obama visit could care less. Just trying to force a trade...only problem no team wants a 40 yr old has been. THOMAS IS JOKE...he ll be playing in germany 2nd div in a years time...good buy you selfish bum!"

"They went to the White House to accept an honor from an office, not a man. TT is to dumb to realize the president was honoring a team and not him individually. That offense alone was perhaps forgivable given what he accomplished. But to screw over his fans and his teammates is classless. To hide behind the three Fs is cowardly."

"Fans were not outraged Kirk, what planet were you on during that time? Good riddance to him, hope he can keep his mouth shut and opinions to himself where ever he lands."

"Why doesn't he just come out and ask for a trade instead of pulling this garbage? That I could respect more than this nonsense. Sorry the Bruins had the nerve to explore trade options for an aging goalie with a balky hip. Or that they weren't happy that he chose to publicly skip a team event. What a *-bag."

"Tea Partiers are Republicans who think they're some sort of new party. They're all generally nuts. TT didn't get criticism for his "political views", but his revealing that he's sort of nuts. It's like if he said he was skipping the White House ceremony because Obama believes that dinosaurs existed. People wouldn't be upset at his "religious views", they'd be upset by his lack of coherent, rational ones."

Some anti-Thomas people have gone so far as to accuse Thomas of being a racist. To me, this is the ultimate extremism of the irrational hatred that some have for Mr. Thomas.

"Joel Ward wants to be friends on Facebook (Confirm) (Later) Dear Timmie, sorry I scored the goal that sent your crossburning ax into retirement. Please forgive me, and let's be friends. Sincerely, Joel"

"Why did I 'like' Tim's FB page? Because I wanted to see what he was all about after he snubbed the office of the presidency of the United States. I know, Ii know, I'm Canadian so what would I know - enough at least to respect the office even if I disliked the man. Now that I understand the man (Thomas) that is, I can see that the rumours of his KKK sympathies are probably well founded. He hates Obama because he's black and he hates the Jews because they control the money. See ya Timmy, I still say you are a goofball."

This guy is referring to a quote Thomas posted on his Facebook page. The quote was made many years ago by a British banker, who was also Jewish, about the control of the money supply being the true source of power in a country.

"I'm not disputing the quote, everybody knows that he/she who controls the purse strings rules the world. I'm just saying Tim is a racist and his rants would have more credibility if he didn't color it (get it, color it) with his racist remarks. If he hadn't mentionned the 'banking cartlel' I would be fine with it. His statements are always inflammatory."

Thomas says stuff, people get inflamed over it, then they call him "inflammatory." But who is starting the fire? The person speaking his opinion or the person in the crowd getting overly enraged and hearing everything as racist?

Thomas' apparent streak of selfish behavior, inflammatory rhetoric, and being a distraction to teammates has inevitably led to him being compared to other Boston athletes: Curt Schilling, Randy Moss, Manny Ramirez, even some beer swilling Sox pitchers.

"TT is pissed, because Bs told him he is NOT in their future plans, due to his political/religious views. Mngmt. does not appreciate rebels. It's all about $$$$, TT give R Moss a call he'll fill you in."

"Tim Thomas = Manny Ramirez."

"And when Manny decided that baseball wasn't that important on any given day, he heard about it. Thomas deserves no different treatment. And please, if this doesn't scream "contact shenanigans!' I don't know what does. If Thomas is such an upstanding and principled man, he'd honor his contract."

"Hey Tim...Jesus didn't violate his Conract with Man now did he? You are the Hockey version of Curt Shilling."

"It's time to trade this selfish bum. It's all about him. He has poisoned the teams chemistry. The Bruins didn't make it past the first round due to his mediocre play and the teams lack of urgency and fire in their bellies. It was not fun to watch. The Bruins paid him well and what does he do?.....goes out and acts like a lone wolf and disrespects management and the team at every turn. No player is above the team. Get his butt out of town now! Another ingrate who forgets who pays him big bucks to play a sport! We see too many of these jerks already in Boston like jerky Beckett, Kessell, Lackey, Mannny!!!"

That last one really covers all the bases for the Anti-Thomas Brigade. It blames him for the team losing this year, calls him selfish, alludes to the White House incident, and compares him to other problematic athletes. And apparently, Thomas disrespected "management and the team at every turn." That was my favorite part of the quote. It makes me imagine Tim Thomas walking by Cam Neely's office every day and flipping him off, not making a new pot of coffee when he's drank the last of the old, leaving 3 drops of milk in the carton instead of getting more.

Tim Thomas was never reported to be chronically late or absent to practice like Moss was. Nor did he take portions of games off as Moss did.

Tim Thomas never slapped a teammate in public, or shoved an elderly team employee, or constantly beg to be traded then recant, or take performance enhancing drugs. He is not Manny Ramirez.

Do I even need to point out how different Kessel and Thomas are?

Thomas did not, as far as we know, drink beers in the room when Rask was in net. He's not Beckett or Lackey. And he's always been in prime physical shape.

Thomas did not call sports radio to declare his political beliefs. He did so on his personal Facebook page, which you can either choose to look at or not. Thomas also never asked a state government for money to fund a video game company.

For me, I'm simply amazed at how some people have turned on Thomas. It started in January, with the White House thing. Which became controversial as the team struggled through February. Thomas was blamed by some. And now people have completely turned against him.

I fully agree with those who don't like Thomas' decision. It hurts the team. But if you're going to judge the man, or the player, then judge them as a whole. Calling him selfish neglects what the team was able to accomplish in 2011, even with an allegedly selfish goalie in net. Comparing him to other troubled athletes doesn't quite work because what he's done is different from what any of them did. And it's irrational to be angry at someone for leaving but also happy that they're gone.

Sports are emotional, and sports fandom is about emotional responses. But that doesn't excuse someone for leaving their reason behind as they form and express opinions. And these people I quoted above are still trying to use reason to rationalize their emotional responses. 'He's selfish,' 'he's a cancer,'

"Hey Tim, seems you've done a great Job pulling the wool over the Eyes of the Peeps that come in here. However, you and I both know that this is about Money...Not God or Country! Cut me a break will ya? You can fool some of the People some of the time, but not all the People all of the Time!"

"I think uve lost ur brain Tim"

"Dude, you had a nice career, just retire and fade away gracefully. Wtf? You must love the attention, what did you expect would happen??"

These people genuinely dislike Tim Thomas the man and Tim Thomas the hockey player. And their justification of it demonstrates how misguided and irrational their opinions are. They portray him as a selfish player who hurt them in 2012, but somehow not in 2011. They are angry at him for not putting the team first, even though the team was apparently trying to trade him.

Tim Thomas doing what he's done the last few days hurt the Bruins and their fans. But overall, the goalie has given more to the Bruins and those same fans than any single player has since 1972. It's okay to be upset with him for this week's actions, but for people to turn their backs completely on what Thomas has meant to this franchise, is moronic.

There's No Tying in Basketball!

This is from Sunday night on WMTW in Portland, Maine. I originally saw it on Obnoxious Boston Sports Fan

I don't know who seems dumber in this clip, the anchorlady or her producer. On the one hand, she should know that basketball games don't end in ties. On the other hand, what's she supposed to do on this live broadcast? Start arguing with her invisible producer on the air? Unfortunately, there's no indication that she is aware of what she is saying is incorrect. So both her and her producer are both at fault. And if her producer is a guy, he must forfeit his testicles for 18 months as a penalty for being so ignorant about sports.

The Kings Make it Reign*

What the LA Kings are doing is nothing short of amazing. They are 15-2 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They're 10-0 on the road. And all as an 8 seed. Simply unreal.

Those two words also describe the performance of Jonathan Quick. He's allowed 24 goals in 17 games this postseason. He has a 1.36 GAA after last night's 4-0 shutout over New Jersey (Quick's 3rd of the playoffs). His SV% in the postseason is .950. Only one out of twenty shots on goal are getting past him. In the Finals, he has a GAA of 0.59, and a SV% of .972.

Last night the Kings killed 6 New Jersey power plays, including a 5-on-3. Quick stopped 22 shots. Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist. Jeff Carter scored a PP goal. One of the assists on that goal was from Mike Richards. Sorry, Philadelphia. Dustin Brown had an assist. As did Drew Doughty.

The Kings have won mostly because of Quick. But they've got a roster full of solid guys who can score, who can play smart, who can play physical, and who can keep themselves from getting in bad positions.

They've also been able to keep their key players healthy. That's a reward for winning their previous series so easily. They only needed 14 games to get to the Finals. The Devils needed 18. Five of which went to OT. The Kings only played two overtime games.

Ilya Kovalchuk is obviously hurting, and without him, the Devils' offense is considerably less potent. Kovalchuk has only managed 5 shots on goal in the Finals. He had been averaging over 3 per game in previous rounds, and over 4 per game in the regular season. The Devils are 7-2 in the playoffs when he manages to get more than 3 shots on goal, 5-7 when he doesn't. The Devils are 6-1 when he scores, 6-8 when he doesn't.

It's possible that the Devils can turn this into a series, but hard to imagine. Quick, Brown, Doughty, Carter, Kopitar, they're all playing very well right now. And the Devils' best forward is not physically at 100%. The one detraction I'll make on this amazing run of theirs is that these series are getting a tad boring.

The Kings winning is good for hockey. It's a big market, obviously. So that's good for TV contracts and drawing fans. It's a warm weather city that has shown an interest in the game (the Kings had 100% attendance and were 15th in total attendance). But the team itself also play the game the right way. They have some American stars (Quick is from Milford, CT, Dustin Brown is from Ithaca, NY), and some likable players. Not to mention a funny, well-run, engaging Twitter feed.

Game 4 Wednesday night in LA.